Choosing an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) can be a tricky task. With an ever-increasing number of providers in Australia and offshore, how can you ensure you choose the right partner for your business?
To help you separate the good from the bad, here are four crucial questions to ask yourself before appointing an IT MSP.
When should I seek help?
If you are a growing business, it can be tough to know exactly when to seek external IT support. In smaller businesses, the IT hat is often worn by someone in another and often totally unrelated role.
This model works when the IT remit focusses on setting up Office365 accounts for new staff and deploying basic applications. However once staff numbers have grown and applications need integrating, your nominated IT person may find they are focussing all their time on IT and none of their time on their actual role. Queue the IT MSP.
Alternatively, you may have an existing IT MSP or inhouse specialist already. If you find you are having to drive them forward to align them with your strategy, then it might be time to explore alternative options.
An engaged IT MSP should be looking to the future and planning ahead, not just delivering on the tasks designated to them.
Do they share my vision?
Speaking of planning ahead, the key to long lasting MSP relationships is identifying someone who shares your vision. This will enable the provider to take ownership of the business technology and alleviate the burden of IT from the existing staff.
MSPs should work with one eye on the future and always be thinking ‘what next’ – this is particularly important when it comes to considering server life cycles and Cloud migration plans.
A tell-tale sign of a shoddy MSP is one that is surprised by the end of a server life cycle or one that conducts a Lift-and-Shift migration (moving existing workloads to the Cloud without changing them) but doesn’t then create a plan to leverage Cloud capabilities.
Are they the right cultural fit?
When hiring staff it is common to assess a candidate on cultural fit. The same thinking should be applied when contracting an IT MSP. To enable an MSP to work productively and efficiently, you need to consider them as an extension of your team.
This means they need to share your values and be personable and responsive. All your staff should be able to communicate with the MSP. This can be easier to achieve with a local provider who can meet with staff face-to-face on a regular basis and isn’t impacted by time zone variations.
Assessing cultural fit will also have an impact on the level of trust you place in your provider. It is harder to establish a strong and collaborative relationship with non-responsive and unfriendly staff. This is really important as the more you trust your MSP, the more they can take ownership and drive the business technology forward without the need for constant direction and clarification.
What does the service provision include?
When it comes to comparing providers, make sure you look at the fine print and read between the lines. All providers will promise holistic and all-encompassing service agreements, but this can be misleading.
A true partner will provide a clear proposal with no loopholes. If you are presented with a list of inclusions, ask the provider to also provide a list of exclusions. The latter can often be very revealing and expose contract details that may affect your decision to appoint them.
In this day and age it is also important to be wary of any MSP suggesting you invest in on-premises servers. Instead, MSPs should be focussing on creating or building on a Cloud strategy to take your business into the future.
About Dynamic Business Technology
With offices in Newcastle, NSW and Melbourne, VIC, Dynamic Business Technology (DBT) staff deliver a raft of IT and CIO services to businesses with a focus on communication, collaboration and strategy.
DBT is an experienced and trusted IT Managed Service Provider. DBT provides a truly holistic IT service to clients and address their pain points on a case by case basis. We provide a short list of exclusions rather than a short list of inclusions and thrive on seeing our clients succeed.
If you are looking for strategic and friendly IT support for your business, contact the team at DBT today.